For us beleaguered Knicks fans, yesterday should have been a rare day of joy. One where we sang the praises of RJ Barrett equaling his career-high (27 points) and Frank Ntilikina rising to the moment on offense and defense to help the Knicks beat the Rockets 125-123 in a thriller. Instead, we were treated to a petty and embarrassing public tiff between our most famous fan ambassador, Spike Lee, and our infamous owner, James Dolan.
Par the course, some people took sides immediately. But from an objective standpoint, it’s clear that both sides handled this in a retaliatory, immature fashion.
Let’s start with Spike. If he wasn’t notified of the entrance change, he had every reason to be upset and it’s understandable if miscommunication with the employees resulted in some choice words. Not for nothing, word has been around for years that Spike isn’t the most personable individual. However, no one has rode harder for the Knicks in my entire lifetime than Spike, and for a lifelong customer who’s spent millions on courtside seats, the heated nature of the below conversation isn’t surprising.
Here’s where things went left on both sides. Spike going on ESPN’s First Take escalated the situation beyond measure. Before that, everyone assumed it was simply a bad decision by the employees since we all observed Spike at his regular seat at halftime. But either the initial confrontation or the subsequent Dolan discussion had Spike still irate.
Next is where the Knicks once again mishandled PR. A statement on this should’ve never been released, especially one with the testy, incendiary language that would only fuel continued media. Does Madison Square Garden not have a policy for handling complaints? A competent mid-level company, let alone a billion-dollar franchise, should never be seen publicly addressing a customer complaint with terms like “laughable.”
Now, after that handshake picture, Spike’s story got a bit inconsistent. Before that, he claimed Dolan curt with him regarding the employee entrance issue. After the pic, Spike retracted and claimed to not remember all the details and that he was still “in shock” about the incident. But he did remain adamant that he wasn’t told beforehand about the entrance change.
In summary, this could have been an unfortunate miscommunication issue that was resolved in-house. But ego and pride made this a media spectacle, one that will be forgotten about today but has possibly caused irreparable harm to the Spike-Knicks relationship. And furthermore, it’s overshadowed our young guys leading us to Leon Rose’s first win as team president.
Maybe Spike is right to sit out for the rest of this season. Heck, an occasional emotional reset is a necessity when you’re a Knicks fan.